Okay, it’s a cheesy title, so sue me.
Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror finished its second series on Monday night and, as with the previous series, it left an interesting thought with me; “What happens if this comes true?”
The latest trilogy of stories told didn’t seem to focus on the outright, bat-shit craziness of the previous, the Prime Minister copulating with a sow for example. But they still conveyed a powerful message about potential futures. With that out the way, let’s look at the episodes themselves.
Needless to say, SPOILERS DOWN BELOW…
The twist comes from a friend who sets her up with an online account that allows you to talk with the deceased. At first Martha is reluctant to use it, until eventually, one night, fuelled by desperation and some life changing news, she decides to take the plunge. I can actually see this entire episode becoming reality sometime in our lives. Losing a family member is hard and being given the opportunity to talk to them at least once more would be a gift many people yern for, so having a computer program that could look through someone’s Facebook posts and twitter feed to begin talking in a similar style to the deceased would be a great comfort. But with the great comfort would come great disturbances… As the story progresses, Martha becomes addicted to the program of Ash, eventually paying to have practically a clone of him with all his memories and experiences included. Naturally, this doesn’t work out. Ash’s “memories” don’t stretch to his original’s bedroom etiquette, and combined with other problems such as being unable to go further than twenty five metres from his activation point leads to Martha trying to get rid of him as the memories have become too painful.
As I said earlier, the whole premise of this is scarily possible (well the first part, conversing through emails and chat boxes etc. the clone thing is still a way off) but to what capacity would it be used? Would the whole system be open to abuse? Or would grieving people become social recluses, refusing to do anything but talk to the deceased, and this isn’t even taking into account the exorbitant prices that the companies who’d set them up would charge. This is the thing I like with Black Mirror. The stories are taken to their logical conclusion instead of being left at a happy ending. It makes the whole thing seem more real than it actually is.
Of course, nothing is as previously expected. It turns out that the whole thing is actually a correctional institute, the people watching her through their phones were on a day trip there, with the psychopaths and survivors acting as tour guides and protectors for the public. Victoria had been an accomplice in kidnapping, torturing and killing a young girl along with her fiancée, who had committed suicide before he was convicted. The entire day has been spent torturing Victoria to enact justice on her. With the grand finale being her strapped to a chair, and paraded back to the bedroom she woke up in at the beginning of the day while the crowd follows behind jeering at her.
I feel as though I answered my own question there.
The point being made is who’s the real monster, unlike the previous episode, this one focuses more on our obsession with mobile phones and the combination of features which enables us to capture every moment of our lives and share them with everyone. The results link to de-individualization, in a group it is easier to justify your actions due to the relative anonymity granted from being a face in the crowd.
Eventually, the Waldo team are approached by the CIA to use him as a ‘character assassin’. This appears to be very successful as the epilogue shows Waldo’s creator living rough whilst an animated billboard advertises Waldo’s cheery face from various products, including a billboard that switches between the words hope and change, almost like propaganda.
There are too many ways to properly interpret shows like these and the only way to truly understand what I’ve been talking about is to go and watch the episodes yourself. Black Mirror is one of the few shows that doesn’t feel like it’s talking down to the audience. It’s on 4oD right now, along with series one so if you haven’t watched it, what are you waiting for?